Centre for Imaginative Ethnography
“Imaginings Project”
January 2015 – April 2015

AN INVITATION: Responding to Current Events

Curators: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston and Virginie Magnat

The Ebola crisis, US/Canada airstrikes against ISIS, instability in the Ukraine, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, and the shooting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa are only a few of the events that have recently dominated the (social) media, and the political and public discourses nationally and globally. And yet, the plethora of debates and questions that such events generate can be difficult to navigate, engage with, and respond to, given the haste with which they unfold and are represented. This Imaginings Project considers what role anthropology and ethnography might play in addressing how we encounter and comprehend current events.

In Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary (2008), Paul Rabinow and George E. Marcus attempt to redefine anthropology and fieldwork by asking: “What is distinctly anthropological when anthropologists no longer study ethnos, culture, or society, when what is being studied instead are contemporary events and processes?” (55). In Navigators of the Contemporary: Why Ethnography Matters (2008), David A. Westbrook suggests that, in an increasingly smaller world, anthropology can help us to tackle the concerns of a global society.

We invite you to engage with one or more of the following questions:

How are anthropologists and ethnographers to respond to current events? What might we say and/or do? What expertise can we contribute? Can our commitment to historicity and contextual particularity, as well as our ethnographic sensibility, be useful to understanding such events? How might we help others navigate the conflicting, shifting and often contradictory representations of current events? How might we (re)imagine ethnography vis-à-vis such events? What constitutes an ethnography of current events and an anthropology of the contemporary? How can we reconcile the slow and long-term nature of ethnographic research with the immediacy of currents events? Can our documentation of, responses to, and interventions in current events constitute ethnography?

Send us your intervention/provocation that engages with at least one of the aforementioned questions as a 500 to 1000-word text in any form (prose, poetry, drama, etc.) and/or 12 images, and/or a 10-minute audio and/or video clip, and/or some combination of the above that can be read/viewed/listened to on the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (CIE) website within a maximum of 10 minutes. If you are interested in participating, please contact Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston (mkazubow@yorku.ca) by December 20, 2014 to discuss the format and deadlines. The project will run from January until April, and individual entries will be posted on the Centre for Imaginative (CIE) website on a weekly basis commencing January.

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Photo: Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston
Image editing: Elizabeth Papierz